Never before have telecommunication networks been so vital to our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working, as during the COVID-19 crisis we are living through, says Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU. As a result, I have instructed my team to leverage without any delay ITU’s existing regulatory and policy-maker platform to help countries and industry cope with the increasing stress being put on global networks.
At stake is our ability, as one human family, to give health workers everywhere the tools they need to carry out their duties, to allow all those that can to work from home, to trade online, to ensure that hundreds of millions of children and young people keep up with their studies, and to keep in touch with loved ones, wherever they are.
The platform ITU is launching aims to assist national policy-makers, regulators and industry stakeholders to ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all to the maximum extent possible by sharing best practices and initiatives put in place during the COVID-19 crisis. It will collect relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on actions that telecommunication policy-makers, regulators and others in the regulatory community can use to ensure that their telecommunication networks and services serve the needs of their country.
The new Global Network Resiliency Platform (#REG4COVID) is available here.
This new ITU platform will provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks’ resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure. And because time is of the essence, it will give those countries that still have time to prepare an opportunity to learn from what is being done elsewhere – from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use. Serving initially as an informative tool, the Global Network Resiliency Platform will soon be expanded to provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout this crisis and beyond.
The crisis we are in today calls for solidarity.
In these uncertain times, we should not forget all those around the world who still lack access to the Internet. As the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies, ITU has long advocated for universal, reliable and affordable connectivity, and we will continue to push on all these fronts until everyone is connected.
I call on all ITU members, from the public and private sector alike, to come together to build the best platform we can so that information and communication technology can help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger and more connected.
The author is Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU.